EU crisis: Merkel and Macron sweat as crunch-time deal risks being vetoed in huge upset

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European leaders have met in Brussels to negotiate a multi-billion euro COVID-19 financial aid package. Decision makers from all 27 member states have gathered in-person for the first time since the start of the pandemic in hopes of hammering out a plan to rescue the EU from what it’s worst ever recession. Euronews Political Editor, Darren McCaffrey, revealed the deep divisions that could prevent senior bloc figures, Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, from achieving their goal.

He told viewers: “There is talk about rule of law issues and whether it should be linked to the EU budget.

“Clearly for some EU leaders they think it should be some, for others, not so much.

“Notably Viktor Orbán says he will go as far as vetoing the entire deal if EU leaders do try to link that rule of law issue to the budget.”

The EU has been trying for years to get some countries to respect basic rules like media freedom and independence of the judiciary without success.

One of the proposals on the table at the summit is to cut funding to countries found breaching rule of law principles.

The system would include new voting measures.

The proposal is facing fierce resistance from Poland and Hungary.

The parliament in Budapest even adopted a resolution this week banning the government from signing up to any rule of law conditions in Brussels.

However, the EU’s Justice Commissioner, Didier Reynders, is optimistic a deal on the rule of law package will be reached.

He told Euronews: “In many negotiations, there is always a starting point for all the participants and then you need to go to the table to try to find a compromise.

“So it will be the same here for the different leaders around the table, and it will be possible to have a trade-off.”

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The EU’s ambitious 750 billion euro recovery package to help those hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic has divided member states for other reasons too.

The design of the plan, mostly made of grants, has sparked fears among the so-called ‘frugal four’ (Austria, The Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark).

Leaders of EU countries held a virtual meeting last month to find a compromise.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described the discussions as “positive”, however, there was reportedly no breakthrough.

According to her, many leader agree that the “severity of this crisis justifies an ambitious common response”, and that an agreement is needed soon.

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